The Mall in Camden Passage – Islington Council have vowed to fight any attempts to change its use and have called on the owners to let the antique dealers stay.

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ISLINGTON Council are demanding that the landlords of The Mall Antiques Arcade in Camden Passage withdraw the notice they sent out to dealers telling them to quit.

Council leader James Kempton told ATG that he is calling on the owners, the retail property investment company London & Associated Properties (LAP), to reconsider evicting the 30 dealers and pledged that the council would block any proposed changes to the Grade II listed building.

The pledge comes after letters from LAP's lawyers were sent out last week telling dealers that they would have to vacate the premises in the North London antiques thoroughfare in July.

Cllr Kempton said: "I am calling on the owners to withdraw the notice that has been issued. This would be a step too far in removing the antiques trade from Camden Passage."

Although so far LAP have not made a formal approach to the council to redevelop or change the use of the building, any alterations, whether internal or external, would require Listed Building Consent and, potentially, planning permission as well.

"The council would not support such a planning application," said Cllr Kempton. "As a listed building, we have powers to prevent the internal shop units being removed. The landlords will receive no co-operation from us."

A number of dealers told ATG that being forced out of the Mall would leave them with nowhere to go.

Jewellery dealer Esme Johnston, who has traded in Camden Passage for 25 years, said: "The Mall is a flagship for Camden Passage and its closure would be really disappointing and not help the area at all. The problem is that dealers will have nowhere to go, especially as other centres have now closed as well."

Mike Weedon of the Camden Passage Association said he was "horrified" when he heard the news of the dealers being given notice. "There are too many big companies pushing smaller shops out of business," he said.

The Mall itself stands in a prime location on the busy junction of Upper Street and Essex Road. Originally a tram station, the building dates from 1850 and is a fine example of Victorian industrial architecture.

LAP also own Antiquarius on the King's Road in Chelsea, which they purchased in the same deal in 2006 with Atlantic Antiques.

At the end of 2007, many dealers at Antiquarius were also given notice to quit as LAP have applied to Kensington and Chelsea Council for a certificate to alter the premises. If granted, it would allow them to split Antiquarius in two, keeping roughly half the space for dealers, but using the other half to create a new retail unit thought to be for an international chain. The council are due to make their decision on the application this week.

A handful of dealers at both centres are members of LAPADA. Fiona Ford of the dealers' association said: "The situation at The Mall, like that at Antiquarius, is of great concern to us, given and we are doing all we can to offer support to our members affected.

"The closure of the centres would be a tragedy, not only for the individual dealers but also for areas like the King's Road and Camden Passage that give London its unique character."

When contacted by ATG, neither centre manager of The Mall, Neil Jackson, nor anyone at LAP was available for comment.

By Alex Capon